A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos south West Nigeria today sentenced two convicted officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Christian Nwosu and Tijani Bashir who were charged with N264.8 million gratification received from former Petroleum minister Dieziani Allison Madueke and money laundering by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The Presiding Judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, in his verdict while sentencing the two convicted INEC official said”The two convicted INEC officials acted in breach of their duty and in disrepute manner. The INEC officials must know that their conduct must meet the required standard and must be responsibly and accountable. This country must not be allowed to degenerated to anarchy any one that acted contrary to the law must be dealt with in accordance to the law especially those who plays ignoble roles,section 3 of the law in which the convicts were charged provide for terms of imprisonment and fine. The court will tamper justice with mercy, but the message should be sent to to INEC that anyone found guilty will be dealt with in according to the provisions of the law.
The sentence of the convicts are as follows the two convicts are sentenced to 7years each on count one, 7years each on count two, 5years each on count three, 5years each on count four, Tijani Bashir sentenced to 7years on count five, 7years on count six, 7years on count seven, 7years on count 8,while the two convicts are sentenced to 7years each on count nine the sentences are to run concurrently. The properties and monies recover from the convict are to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Christian Nwosu is to forfeit to the Federal Government of Nigeria a landed property at Akpanam , Asaba Delta state valued N5million,(empty land) 2,Akpanam Delta State (House) valued N20million and a cash of N5million.
Tijani Bashir is to forfeit a four bedroom flat at 6 Umme Street wuse Abuja valued N27 million.
Before the court sentenced the convicts, their Counsel Barrister Victor Opara leading six other lawyers while pleading for leniency on behalf of the convicts, urged court to tamper justice with mercy, he told the court that the convicts were first offender, the prosecutor Mohammed Idris confirmed this.
The two convicts were present in court today. The convicts were convicted yesterday while their sentence were differed till today because of the absence of the first convict(Nwosu) on the ground of ill health. The trial to the convicts started on April 6,2017.
EFCC had preferred a criminal charge against the convicts. One of them, Yisa Adedoyin, had earlier been convicted by the court after he pleaded guilty to the charges prefferred against him.
The convicts were said to have accepted cash gratification from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke, in the build-up to 2015 general elections.
The anti-graft agency accused them of accepting the said gratification, which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act.
The convicts were re-arraigned after their co-accused (Adedoyin) had opted to change his plea by admitting to being complicit in the offences charged.
Thereafter, Nwosu and Bashir maintained their respective pleas of not guilty, while they opened their defences on September 19 and 21, 2018 respectively.
After conclusion of trial, parties adopted their final addresses on Nov. 8, 2018 and the court adjourned until January 23 for judgment.
On January 23,2019, the court was ready to read its judgment, but counsel to the first convict, Mr Victor Opara informed the court of a sick leave certificate for Nwosu, from a hospital in Enugu in which he was placed on bed rest.
He thereafter urged the court to grant an adjournment to a further date to enable Nwosu appear.
Opposing the application, EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, vehemently urged the court to proceed with its “business” for the day, adding that such excuse was aimed at “arresting” the court’s judgment.